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Cockrell named to Nagurski Trophy Watch List

Posted July 11, 2013

FILE: Duke's Ross Cockrell during the Devils' game versus Clemson on Saturday, November 3, 2012 in Durham, NC (Photo by Jack Morton).

— Duke redshirt senior cornerback Ross Cockrell has been named to the preseason Watch List for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, an honor presented annually to the nation’s top defensive player by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America.

Cockrell, a native of Waxhaw, N.C., earned honorable mention All-America honors from Sports Illustrated in 2012 after posting 71 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 quarterback sack, five interceptions, 13 pass breakups and one caused fumble. A first team All-ACC pick by both the media and coaches, he ranked tied for first in the league in interceptions per game (0.38), third in passes defended per game (1.38) and 41st in tackles per game (5.46) while becoming the first Blue Devil to lead the league in interceptions per game since John Talley in 2006.

In 36 career games, Cockrell has amassed 187 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 quarterback sack, nine interceptions, 29 pass breakups, 38 total passes defended and one caused fumble. On Duke’s career charts, he ranks fourth in total passes defended, sixth in pass breakups and tied for 10th in interceptions and, among active players in the ACC, ranks first in interceptions, second in pass breakups, second in total passes defended and fourth in tackles.

Cockrell is one of 12 players from the ACC to be named to the watch list. The 75-man list is comprised of 28 linemen, 27 linebackers and 26 backs.

The Blue Devils open the 2013 season with a home contest against N.C. Central on Saturday, August 31, at 4 p.m.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists who are part of the 2013 FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s entire membership, selects the 25-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner, the best defensive player in America.

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Dec. 9 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte. In addition to the 2013 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by the CTC and Florida East Coast Railway. Georgia Tech’s Randy Rhino, a member of the FWAA’s 1972 All-America team, will be honored. Florida head coach Will Muschamp will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.

The FWAA has named a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,300 men and women who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America team.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club was founded in 1991 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches.

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